Baby Doesn’t Use Arms During Tummy Time: What You Should Do?

For any expecting mother, discovering the baby doesn’t use arms during tummy time is a big concern.

Like you, I used to have that experience and had to scour all websites to find out the reason behind that before consulting the doctor.

Now, I want to share every ins and outs of this problem with you so that you don’t feel alone anymore.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Why A Baby Doesn’t Use Arms During Tummy Time? 

baby doesn't use arms during tummy time

A baby puts arms back during tummy time because she is in the process of learning to use their muscles.

Besides, other reasons are lack of muscle strength, coordination, discomfort or pain, lack of motivation or interest, and other hidden issues.

Here are the details of each reason.

Atypical Muscle Tone

Sometimes, babies have atypical muscle tone, which means their muscles may not be as strong or coordinated as other babies.

This can make it harder for them to use their arms during tummy time. Some general signs you may observe with your naked eye are:

Floppiness or Limpness

If a baby’s arms or legs feel unusually floppy or lack firmness, it may suggest lower muscle tone or the so-called hypotonia.

Stiffness or Rigidity

If a baby’s arms or legs feel overly rigid, resistant to movement, or exhibit increased muscle tension, it may indicate higher muscle tone.

Difficulty Maintaining Posture

Babies with variations in muscle tone may have challenges in holding their heads up, sitting, or maintaining a stable body position.

Coordination Difficulties

Observing difficulties in reaching, grasping objects, or performing precise movements can suggest variations in muscle tone.

Delayed Motor Milestones

If an infant is experiencing delays in achieving developmental turning points, such as sitting up, rolling over, crawling, or walking, it may hint at atypical muscle tone.

Still, the phenomenon is not a disease. It can result from various factors, including genes, neurological conditions, or developmental delays. It can go away when your baby grows up. 

However, I recommend you get advice from a healthcare professional as they will give you the exact cause behind this situation.

And they will advise you to do conventions if it is the hidden root cause of another problem or just let your baby continue to grow naturally.

Uncomfortable Position

If the tummy time arm position is uncomfortable, they are less likely to use their arms.

Imagine trying to play a game while sitting on a bumpy chair or a hard surface. It wouldn’t be very enjoyable, right? Well, it’s the same for babies.

If they feel uneasy during tummy time, they might prefer to rest their head on the mat instead of using their arms.

The inconvenient position also explains the case of a 3 month old not lifting head during tummy time.

They deny doing so because they haven’t yet discovered the motivation or interest to lift their head during tummy time.

Here are a few factors that can contribute to discomfort during tummy time progress:

Pressure On The Tummy

Babies who have recently eaten or have a full stomach may feel uncomfortable when pressure is applied to their belly.

This discomfort may discourage them from lifting their head or pushing up with their arms.

Neck Or Head Positioning

If a baby’s neck muscles are still developing, they may find it challenging to maintain their head in an elevated position during tummy time.

This can lead to discomfort or strain on their neck, discouraging them from lifting their head.

Surface Hardness Or Texture

The surface on which an infant is placed for tummy time can also impact their comfort level.

A hard or uncomfortable surface, such as a firm mat, can make it less enjoyable for your little one to rest their head or maintain their position.

Overstimulation or Distractions

Overstimulation or distractions can be why your baby puts arms behind him during tummy time.

Sometimes, babies get distracted or overstimulated during tummy time. Think of it like when you’re playing a fun game, and someone starts talking loudly or playing music nearby.

It’s hard to concentrate, isn’t it?

Babies might forget to use their arms and get carried away by all the exciting sights and sounds if there are many interesting things happening around them.

So, environments matter.

Other Underlying Medical Conditions

In some cases, babies might not use their arms during tummy time because they have other medical conditions that affect their muscles or coordination.

Infants with certain conditions might struggle to use their arms during tummy time.

Here I make a list of possible medical conditions so that you get a big picture of what is behind them:

Cerebral Palsy

Some babies have trouble controlling their muscles because of a condition called Cerebral palsy. This can make it hard for them to use their arms well during belly time.

Muscular Dystrophy

Some childs have weak muscles due to Muscular Dystrophy – a genetic condition, hindering them from lifting and using their arms during belly time.

Brachial Plexus Injury

Brachial plexus injuries can occur during childbirth when the nerves controlling the hand & arm are damaged.

Consequently, you can find weakness or paralysis in the affected arm, making it challenging for babies to use their arms during belly time.

Developmental Delays

Some babies take longer to learn new things, like using their arms during tummy time. This is called “delays in their motor development” and can happen for different reasons.

Note: Every baby’s tummy time timeline is not the same. They are unique in their way. So, don’t freak out. Let’s try some methods below to encourage your dearest.

How To Get A Baby To Use Arms During Tummy Time? 

how to get baby to use arms during tummy time

What should tummy time look like? Here I will introduce to you the method to encourage your baby to use their arms, whether they are at 4-month tummy time, 5 month tummy time, or 6-month tummy time.

Create A Comfortable And Engaging Tummy Time Environment

Lay a soft blanket or mat on the floor where your baby can lie on their tummy.

Ensure the chosen area is free & safe from any hazards. You can also add colorful toys or objects nearby to catch their interest and make it a fun space.

Babies love to sleep on their mom’s chest because it is a relaxed position in an utterly comfortable environment.

Similarly, a cozy ambiance will make them feel safe and encourage your baby to learn tummy time milestones gradually.

Offer Support And Encouragement To Your Baby

Place your hands gently on their back or under their chest to provide a little extra support. This movement can help your baby feel more secure and confident using their arms.

Speak to your baby in a soothing and cheerful voice, letting them know you’re there and cheering them on.

Sometimes, my baby only wants me to hold him and won’t even let me sit down, let alone placing him on her belly.

Every time I do, he does not cooperate in practicing anymore. So, when you do this, you keep patience.

Use Toys Or Other Props To Capture Your Baby’s Attention

As mentioned, place colorful and engaging toys within their reach during tummy time.

Parents can buy a small mirror to reflect their image or a soft rattle that makes a gentle sound. These can motivate your baby to reach out and grab or explore with their arms.

Increase Tummy Time Gradually To Help Your Baby Develop Strength And Skills

Start with short sessions a few times a day, and as your baby becomes more comfortable, gradually increase the periods of time.

This will give your child more practice and help their muscles (shoulder muscles, arm muscles, hip muscles, finger muscles, etc) get stronger over time.

Make a specific routine and commit to the time.

When Should Parents Concern About Tummy Time Progression?

When do babies push up on hands? Between the ages of 4 to 6 months.

However, your child’s tummy time starts when they are newborns, from the first week to six months of age.

So, during this time, if you notice that your baby is not making any progress or if they see any unusual signs, you should be concerned.

It is when your child develops motor skills and builds and strengthens so-called core muscle strength, so it is important.

If your baby is not trying to lift their head or use their arms after a few months of tummy time practice, visiting a doctor is highly recommended.

 Also, parents need to seek advice once the baby is suffering from discomfort or pain during tummy time.


5 month tummy time

When your baby doesn’t use arms during tummy time, don’t fret!

Most of the time, it is a normal phenomenon in the baby’s development process. You just need to communicate with your child more and do some tricks, as I suggest.

Besides, to be reassured, call or visit your healthcare professional for consultancy. For anything else you need, leave a comment, and I will be there ASAP.

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